HLS to Revamp Use of Computers

Will Move Texts and Messages On-Line in Next Five Years

Harvard Law School will revamp its use of computers in the curriculum within the next five years, according to Warren Professor of American Legal History Morton J. Horwitz.

The school's goals include moving all texts--including cases--on-line and allowing for on-line communication between students and professors, Horwitz said.

Horwitz said the changes are market-induced. "The market has driven us to the point where law cases and law reviews can be called on-line," he said.

The group responsible for implementing these changes include Professor of Law Martha L. Minow, Professor of Law Todd D. Rakoff, Professor of Law William W. Fisher, Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus Abram Chayes, Weld Professor of Law Charles R. Nesson, Walmsley University Professor Frank I. Michelman and Horwitz.

This so-called "Lexis-Nexis" or "bridge" committee has met regularly for the past two to three years.


Horwitz said the law will be more dependent upon facts and individual cases in the future.

"I think what we called legal analysis before will change after the implementation of [these] computers," he said. "[They] will reorganize legal knowledge."

Horwitz said he believes that a law case can no longer be defined by one specific category.

"There is a finite, limited classification of categories [in law books], but computers will bring about cross-cutting categories," he said.

Horwitz predicts that these changes will bring about "a big shake-up of law schools based on their curriculum."

"The elite law schools will have to change their curriculum [along] with changing technology," he said.

Curriculum changes call for classes to meet less frequently, professors to be more accessible on-line and more individualized research to take place, Horwitz said.

Horwitz said the advent of the computer systems will permit faster access to cases and the ability to call up or highlight on-screen text.

"[The] nitty-gritty techniques of legal research, who and how you do it will, change greatly within the next 10 years," he said.